Roosevelt, a Democrat like his father, tried politics in 1910 and won a seat in the New York State Senate from his traditionally Republican home district. He flourished as a courageous and adroit political contender.
State legislatures elected U.S. senators in those days. Leading a group of fellow Democratic legislators, Roosevelt spearheaded a successful drive against a candidate hand picked by the party bosses. His ploy infuriated Tammany Hall, the Democratic political machine in New York City.
In 1912, Roosevelt was reelected to the State Senate. That year he actively backed Woodrow Wilson against his fifth cousin, Theodore Roosevelt, in the presidential election. Wilson won and rewarded the young senator with the post of Assistant Secretary of the Navy in 1913. Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, tutored his assistant on national politics, including the art of dealing with Congress.
In 1914, Roosevelt sought nomination as a candidate for the U.S. Senate. He was trounced, mainly because Tammany Hall had opposed him.